Football 2014: Newton Railers
Newton’s football team averaged 35 points and 455 yards last season. Coach Nate Wollenberg’s first year included as many losses as wins, but the Railers’ games were high-scoring and chain-moving.
Newton accomplished more than entertainment value. From beating a Salina team (Central) for the first time in memory, to winning the first homecoming game in the seniors’ four years, even a 57-point playoff loss to Carroll didn’t diminish the Railers’ season.
“We set a record for total points scored and total yards, and we made the playoffs,” Wollenberg said. “As we were ticking off goals toward the end of the year, we felt like there were a lot of positives.”
Enough components return this fall to have Newton thinking big again. Quarterback Jack Kingsley split time as starter last year (862 rushing yards, 391 passing) and returns for his senior year as a quiet leader.
“All through football, I’ve always been the starting quarterback, so it took some time getting used to it last year,” Kingsley said. “But I’m very excited going into it this year, I think we have a lot of potential.”
Bradley Million (922 rushing yards, 10 yards per carry) returns in the backfield and as the primary kick returner. His first step gives him a speed advantage, Wollenberg said.
Newton’s backfield will also be bolstered by Kade Remsberg, a sophomore speedster who didn’t play much varsity by design last season.
“We were fortunate to have good backs and didn’t need to throw him in there,” Wollenberg said. “He’s going to be a talent for us. He’ll rank right up there.”
They’ll run behind a big-but-inexperienced line, partially because of past injuries. Kyle Kelsey (6-foot-6, 290) is back from a knee injury, Jarod Cooper (6-5, 275) from an ankle hairline fracture and Colton Pfannenstiel (6-1, 252) from a broken wrist. All seniors, they join returning anchor Michael Estrada (6-3, 305).
The defense gave up a 35-point average last year, too, and will develop an inexperienced line. Linebackers Ty Voth and Jared Langley return, and Luke Porter could be an added help at the position.
A rough schedule – including home games against Hutchinson, Derby, Maize and Salina South – doesn’t get easier as the Railers try to get back to the Class 5A playoffs. Great Bend, Salina South and Salina Central make up a murderer’s row as Newton tries for its first repeat trip to the playoffs since 2007.
A LOOK AT NEWTON
Coach: Nate Wollenberg, second year, 5-5
League: AV-CTL Division I
Last season: 5-5, lost in first round of 5A playoffs
Last five seasons: 20-27
Projected 2014 playoff team? No
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|Sept. 5||at Campus|
|Sept. 19||Valley Center|
|Sept. 26||at Arkansas City|
|Oct. 17||at Great Bend|
|Oct. 24||Salina South|
|Oct. 31||at Salina Central|
Jack Kingsley on his team
What Newton does well: “I feel like we have even better components this year with a good, experienced backfield and good wide receivers and a large line.”
What has to improve: “I think if we give up fewer big plays on the defensive side and capitalize on opportunities on offense, we’ll be in good shape.”